Borough council pledges to tackle inequality in Wokingham with new strategy

Shute End Wokingham
Wokingham Borough Council's offices in Shute End

WOKINGHAM BOROUGH COUNCIL is preparing to unveil its new equalities strategy. 

“We have set up a group to look at equalities,” said Cllr John Halsall. “We had a quick consultation which had a good response and we’ve studied the Local Government Association framework. 

“We’ve put together a first paper in terms of an action plan, which will go to the Executive committee and then a full council meeting.”

He pledged that the council would also reach out to minority groups who got in touch so that their views can help shape the final plan. 

“We’re not acting in the wake of last summer’s Black Lives Matters protests, it’s because it’s the right thing to do.”

Cllr Halsall added: “We are the lowest funded unitary council in England, and we have the lowest calculated deprivation index. Almost by definition we should be able to determine where our deprivation, poverty and equality issues lie, and they should be in a relatively small population of the borough. 

“Our strategy is to create the architecture for a permanent and continuous examination and action on these issues going forward – long after I’m dead and buried, either politically or in fact.”

The council’s 1,200-strong workforce had also been consulted with a view to ensuring that when the equalities strategy is in place it will be easier to implement. 

“What we are doing is not applying the equality strategy to groups, but ensuring that every individual in the borough, whatever their issues are, feel valued, listened to and that it’s worthwhile. 

“Our mission as a borough is to make people as healthy as possible, as secure as possible, and as happy as possible. How can you do that if you don’t address the equality issue? While people might want to focus on their own issue, the borough really has to focus on all the protected characteristics of each and every individual throughout the borough.”

He pledged that there would be dynamic strategies in place to address these concerns. 

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